The hit fox drama "Empire" has returned for season two after having helped catapult the careers of its stars, including Taraji P. Henson, who portrays family matriarch and ex-con Cookie Lyon, who is intent on getting her rightful place in the family's record company. Get to know the rest of the characters.
Terrence Howard portrays family patriarch Lucious Lyon. Lucious is the head of his family record label, founded on illegal money from his and Cookie's days as drug dealers. In season one he was told had ALS which caused him to contemplate which of his sons should carry on the family business.
Bryshere Y. Gray portrays youngest son Hakeem Lyon, who is a rapper and bitter about his mom, Cookie, going to jail. In real life Gray raps using the moniker Yazz the Greatest.
Jussie Smollett portrays middle son Jamal Lyon, who is a singer and at odds with his father because he is gay. Smollett confirmed that he, too, is gay.
Trai Byers portrays oldest Lyon son Andre, who serves as chief financial officer of Empire Records. Andre has a mental illness and is desperate to take over the company from his father.
Rhonda, portrayed by Kaitlin Doubleday, is Andre's wife and his cohort in scheming to get the company.
Grace Gealey portrays Anika Calhoun, who began season one as Lucious' fiancée and the head of Empire Entertainment A&R division. She and Cookie often butt heads.
Vernon Turner, played by Malik Yoba, was Lucious' longtime friend and business associate at Empire Records. He was killed off in season one.
Gabourey Sidibe stars as Becky, Lucious' personal assistant and confidante. She keeps his life organized.
Porsha, played by Ta'Rhonda Jones, is Cookie's assistant and comedic sidekick.
Michael, left, portrayed by guest star Rafael de la Fuente, was introduced early on in season one as Jamal's boyfriend.
Serayah McNeil plays singer Tiana Brown, an artist on Empire Records who dated Hakeem in season one.
Judd Nelson plays Billy Beretti, Lucious' archenemy and head of a rival record label. He's menacing and has a grudge against Lucious.
Courtney Love guest-starred as Elle Dallas, a recovering drug addict who was one of the first successful acts on the Empire label.
Derek Luke guest-starred in season one as Malcolm Deveaux, the head of security at Empire records.
Naomi Campbell guest-starred in season one as the very sexy Camilla Marks, a businesswoman who develops a special relationship with one of the Lyon brothers.